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CWA e-Newsletter: Sept. 19, 2013

September 19, 2013

CWA e-Newsletter

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CWA Town Hall Call TONIGHT

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Tonight, CWA's town hall call will focus on the amazing partnership CWA locals and TU activists are building with our counterparts in the German union ver.di. Earlier this month, ver.di members held actions and leafleted at 20 locations in Germany to stand up for the rights of T-Mobile US workers.

Join the call tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET to learn more and how you can join the fight.

Cablevision Tech: 'I Just Want a Shot at the American Dream'

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Cablevision technician Clarence Adams, a member of CWA Local 1109, addresses lawmakers in Washington, DC.

Today Cablevision technician Clarence Adams testified before the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions on the future of union organizing.

"Ten years ago, I put my life on the line 6,000 miles away from home in the name of protecting the basic rights of American democracy," said Adams, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in the Iraq War and has worked as a Cablevision field technician in Brooklyn for more than 14 years. "I believed I was fighting so that the rights of every American would be protected. I never thought that I would see the day that I, as an American citizen, would have my basic rights trampled on and no one would do anything about it. I never thought that a big corporation could violate my rights and the government would let them get away with it."

Ever since Adams and his Cablevision coworkers voted to join CWA last year, management has refused to bargain with workers in good faith. In addition to intimidating and threatening employees, Cablevision even illegally fired 22 workers for simply attempting to use the company's "open door" policy to discuss the stalled contract negotiations.

Cablevision faces now several unfair practice charges at a National Labor Relations Board hearing in New York City this week.

Adams told lawmakers that Cablevision ultimately bowed to public pressure and rehired him and his 21 coworkers.

"When we walked back in the door, we showed our fellow workers that this is still a fight that we can win," he said. "But I have to say I am very, very upset about what happened to us and what has happened since we voted in the union. The NLRB has filed charges against Cablevision, and we still await justice. Cablevision threatened my livelihood by illegally firing me, and they have shown utter contempt for the rule of law. And so far there have been no consequences for them. Cablevision has hired over 50 lawyers, literally, to defend their unlawful actions. It is simply obscene for them to spend so much on lawyers, instead of sitting down to negotiate with their employees."

He added, "I just want a shot at the American Dream."

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) commended Adams for his "bravery and standing tall for working men and women." Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) called Cablevision's campaign against CWA, "a textbook example of what's become known as union busting."

"We have a broken system," said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.).

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) pointed out that workers, like the OUR Wal-Mart members attending the hearing, have increasingly turned to new ways of asserting their rights in the workplace precisely because of the nation's dysfunctional labor laws.

"My constituents know that with Wal-Mart, a discussion of a union is toxic. They're trying to figure out how they can keep their job and how they get some respect, decent wages, and decent working conditions," said Miller. "And if you try to figure it out among your peers, you can get fired. But if you go the other route as Mr. Adams went, you spend a year trying to talk to your coworkers and get a union, and you win an election. But now you've spent 601 days trying to get the results of your election and get the benefits of the bargaining."

Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the House Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee, said, "We believe that you grow the economy through the middle class out. When Americans are engaged in collective bargaining, they are part of this effort to grow the economy. On average, union workers earn 27 percent more than their nonunion counterparts. They are more likely to have a retirement plan and health care coverage. These are the elements of middle class success."

NLRB Examines Unfair Labor Practice Charges Against Cablevision

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Cablevision is facing several unfair labor practices charges this week at a National Labor Relations Board hearing in New York City.

The charges include:

  • The company has engaged in "bad-faith bargaining" with zero intent on ever reaching an agreement with Brooklyn technicians. Despite voting to join CWA more than a year ago, these workers still do not have a first contract.
  • CEO James Dolan personally threatened to deny Bronx workers job opportunities and training if they voted for the union.
  • To discourage additional CWA organizing campaigns, Cablevision illegally gave raises of $2 to $9 an hour to every Cablevision employee – except those in Brooklyn.

American Airlines, US Airways Employees Say 'Let Us Compete Together'

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CWA Local 1171 President Tom Gunning speaks at the rally outside the U.S. Capitol.

Below: Hundreds of activists at the fly-in ask their allies in Congress to urge the Justice Department to settle its lawsuit against the airlines’ pending merger.


Hundreds of pilots, Flight Attendants, mechanics, technicians, aircraft dispatchers, call center representatives, passenger service agents and fleet service employees rallied on Capitol Hill this week to make the case for proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

Over two days, they met with more than 50 senators and nearly 300 House members, urging them to lend their support a deal that would give all 70,000 workers job security. The merger has been stalled since last month when the Justice Department and six state attorneys general filed lawsuits against American and US Airways to block the deal.

"For employees, there's no question that the merger of US Airways and American Airlines is very positive," said Tom Gunning, president of CWA Local 1171, one of many locals representing nearly 15,000 CWA and AFA-CWA workers at US Airways. "It will create a stronger, more competitive airline, one that will provide better service and more options to passengers than either of our airlines could do alone. That kind of competition is good for passengers."

He added, "At US Airways, we've already suffered through very turbulent times in our industry. My co-workers and I have suffered through two bankruptcies, pay cuts and that sinking feeling that things might never turn around. American Airlines workers have lost jobs and seen their benefits slashed. Their airline remains in bankruptcy. This merger finally is the opportunity for all our sacrifices to be rewarded."

Activists also included members of AFA-CWA, APA, APFA, IBT, TWU and USAPA.

A federal judge is scheduled to hear the case on Nov. 25.

Building Our Movement

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CWA's Iowa State Council meets to begin building political power for legislative and electoral campaigns in 2014.


In Bakersfield, Calif., a "buy-cott" is encouraging people to shop at stores that support comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. CWA activists working with the Kern Coalition for Citizenship have helped sign up more than 70 small businesses, which have all posted flyers of support in their windows. Flyers read, "This Business Supports Economic Opportunities For All. We Support Immigration Reform With A Pathway To Citizenship."


CWA Local 1039 in rallies outside the New Jersey State Capitol today in support of a fair contract for child care providers and raising the minimum wage. On Nov. 5, residents will be voting on a ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 an hour.

TPP: Out of the Shadows!

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Right now, lead negotiators for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal will be meeting in Washington, DC for several days of horse-trading aimed at speeding the massive pact towards conclusion. This round is even more secretive than the last three years of closed-door negotiations, in that they are not even including a stakeholder process.

Tomorrow, join environmental, labor, family farm, faith, consumer, public health and social justice activists for a lunch-hour rally to let TPP negotiators know that people are watching and will be holding them accountable.

Where: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative at 600 17th St NW, Washington, DC

When: Sept. 20 at Noon

RSVP on Facebook.

Tonight, watch CWA President Larry Cohen discuss the TPP on The Ed Show, which airs 5 p.m. on MSNBC.

CWA Local 7704 President Keven Ondrak told his local news station, "We stop these foreign trade deals that take our jobs offshore. We must bring back all offshore work here back to the United States."

Ondrak said union members and all working Americans deserve to have a voice in the process. "They shut the door on us and they have their Congressional meetings and they call for a vote through fast-track up or down. So, they're excluding us," he said.

Read the full story at KCSG Television.